Don’t be mean with a guarantee 14 May 2015

A woman bought a watch from a well known New Zealand jeweller, but had trouble when she questioned the guarantee.

After 18 months the watch failed so she took it back as there was a two-year guarantee on it. The assistant told her that as someone had opened the back of the watch to see if the battery had run out, the manufacturer might not honour the guarantee.

This advice was not well received, as you can imagine.

A week or so later she received a call telling her the manufacturer had thrown away her watch and supplied a new one. She therefore asked for a fresh two-year guarantee. She pointed out the old watch was obviously so bad the manufacture did not want to repair it. It was a new watch, so a new guarantee, surely.

“Oh no,” said the assistant. “You only get the remainder of your guarantee period – six months.”

The customer stuck to her guns and eventually the assistant said “if I give you a fresh two-year guarantee, will that satisfy you?”

“Yes,” the customer replied. “That will do fine”.

In due course she was talking with a solicitor friend who advised her not to worry about guarantees.

“I rely on the Consumer Guarantees Act which requires that the product be suitable for the purpose for which it was bought,” the solicitor said.

To which the customer responded: “Well how long should a reasonably priced watch from a reputable New Zealand jeweller last? Do you think 10 years would be unreasonable?”

The solicitor agreed 10 years was probably fair enough.

The solicitor’s reasoning applies also for “extended warranties” often offered by big store retailers. They’re usually a waste of time because you’re covered by the Act.

We are telling you this story because:

You should never be stingy with your guarantee or try to find a way to dishonour it. Doing so leaves a bad taste in the customer’s mouth. It’s also very stupid because logically, if the product is any good, you should rarely have to honour a guarantee. In the illustration above, the shop assistant should not have suggested the guarantee might be void and she should have given a further two-year guarantee without blinking.

The second reason for this article is to explain that it doesn’t matter too much whether you have a guarantee or not because you can fall back on the Consumer Guarantees Act. A guarantee really defines a minimum time for putting the product right.

The woman is telling her friends about her bad experience – not good for the jeweller’s business.

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